Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Male spectacled warblers are innovative singers

Date:
January 14, 2014
Source:
Plataforma SINC
Summary:
The variability in the song of the male spectacled warbler could play a crucial role in mating, defending territory and recognition between individuals of this species. Studying their acoustic signals will help to understand how this bird, with a small brain and limited social needs, can use a complex system of communication.

The variables in the song of every male spectacled warbler could play a crucial role in mating, defending territory and recognition between individuals of this species.
Credit: Ana Plamero

The variability in the song of the male spectacled warbler could play a crucial role in mating, defending territory and recognition between individuals of this species. Studying their acoustic signals will help to understand how this bird, with a small brain and limited social needs, can use a complex system of communication.

Related Articles


Each male specimen of spectacled warbler, Sylvia conspicillata, has a complex, diverse song, in which new syllables are added and the order is changed as they go along, with a level of skill that relies on their capacity for innovation. Spanish scientists have characterised the acoustic signal of this species, its virtuosity and variability, to try to understand the role that this signal plays in mating, defending territory and recognising individual birds.

"The fact that the spectacled warbler does not have a fixed, characteristic song but rather has variable elements makes it an attractive object of study," Ana Marνa Palmero, one of the authors of the study, a researcher in the Island Ecology and Evolution Research Group (IPNA-CSIC) and the Department of Ecology and Genetics at the University of La Laguna, explains.

The Sylvia conspicillata is a brownish-grey small bird of around 13 centimetres, which feeds primarily on small insects. Populations of the species can be found across the whole Mediterranean region and the Macaronesia, including the Canary Islands, Madeira and Cape Verde.

Its call, which has a wide repertoire, has been described by experts as a high-pitched chirp organised in song phrases of a variable number of syllables which determines the length of the song. The spectacled warbler can also emit a warning call similar to a metallic sound, defined by the researchers as a trill.

A wide repertoire

"The reasons why these birds vary their calls are purely speculative, since in this aspect of the research we are only able to observe repertoire changes and the appearance of new syllables. The next thing will be to try to understand the causes of such complexity, whether it is due to biotic or abiotic factors," the researcher asserts.

It is common among birds for each male of the species to have his own song. "However, it is more usual for each individual's phrases to be repeated and be practically identical, quite opposite to what is observed in the spectacled warbler, where we find great variation both within and between individuals," Palmero elaborates.

The researchers studied the population of this species on the island of Fuerteventura, as it has a higher density of individuals, and they evaluated the repertoire and variation of the spectrum of notes of each individual and as a group.

Acoustic spectrum

The scientists revealed that each bird's acoustic signal is organised in a variable number of song phrases composed of various syllables, from four to 69, and they characterised them into short, average and long song bouts. To study each one's song, they also measured 11 spectrotemporal variations of the phrases.

Of the variables measured, those that could be more important when it comes to differentiating individuals are the duration of the first syllable and the duration and dominant frequency of the trill syllable.

"Song can be influential in a female's choice of mate, as females are more attracted to male birds with larger repertoires," Palmero informs us. The researcher also speculates that, "trill variation could help identify the singer quickly, although this hypothesis would have to be analysed using playback studies and field experiments."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Plataforma SINC. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ana Marνa Palmero, Juan Carlos Illera, Paola Laiolo. Song characterization in the spectacled warbler (Sylvia conspicillata): a circum-Mediterranean species with a complex song structure. Bioacoustics, 2012; 21 (3): 175 DOI: 10.1080/09524622.2012.668772

Cite This Page:

Plataforma SINC. "Male spectacled warblers are innovative singers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140114091711.htm>.
Plataforma SINC. (2014, January 14). Male spectacled warblers are innovative singers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140114091711.htm
Plataforma SINC. "Male spectacled warblers are innovative singers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140114091711.htm (accessed November 24, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, November 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Buzz60 (Nov. 24, 2014) — A Swedish Adventure racing team travels to try and win a world title, but comes home with something way better: a stray dog that joined the team for much of the grueling 430-mile race. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deadly Japanese Pufferfish Discovered in Crimean Waters

Deadly Japanese Pufferfish Discovered in Crimean Waters

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) — The capture of deadly Japanese pufferfish in the waters of Crimea is causing concern for fishermen and scientists alike. Sharon Reich reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Terrifying Black Seadevil Fish Captured on First-of-Its Kind Video

Terrifying Black Seadevil Fish Captured on First-of-Its Kind Video

Buzz60 (Nov. 24, 2014) — An aquarium captures a first-of-its kind video of a notoriously camera-shy fish that’s also not so camera-friendly. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Red Panda Cubs Explore the Bratislava Zoo

Red Panda Cubs Explore the Bratislava Zoo

AFP (Nov. 24, 2014) — Four-month old Red Panda twins Pim and Pam still rely on their mother for breast milk at the Bratislava Zoo in Slovakia, but the precocious cubs have begun to branch out to solid foods, as well. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins